The Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A federal judge on Monday may set a date for a competency hearing for the man charged with the 2002 abduction of Elizabeth Smart.
Brian David Mitchell, however, was not expected to attend the hearing in U.S. District Court.
Federal prosecutors sought the hearing in June and implied that two doctors who evaluated Mitchell reached different conclusions about his ability to participate in his defense.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Lambert has said a hearing could take 10days. Court documents show prosecutors plan to call about 39 witnesses, including family, friends, former church leaders and staff at the Utah State Hospital, where Mitchell has been incarcerated for most of the last six years.
In court papers filed last week, Mitchell's defense attorney, Robert Steele, asked a judge to shorten the list in part because most of the proposed witnesses are not qualified to provide an assessment of competency. In addition, the information could potentially date back to Mitchell's childhood and have little relevance to his current mental state, Steele wrote.
Similarly, testimony from state hospital staff is irrelevant because Mitchell has been in the Salt Lake County jail since federal prosecutors took him into custody 10 months ago, court papers say.
"The issue before the court is Mr. Mitchell's present competency to stand trial," Steele wrote. "Five experts have already weighed in on this question and are prepared to testify as to their findings."
The defense maintains Mitchell is incompetent to stand trial, a conclusion twice reached in state courts. Last year, a state judge declined to order forced medication for Mitchell, saying it was unlikely to restore his competency.
Doctors have diagnosed Mitchell with a rare delusional disorder. Since his arrest in 2003, Mitchell has frequently disrupted court proceedings by singing hymns and once yelled at a judge to "repent."
A one-time itinerant street preacher, Mitchell, 55, was indicted in March 2008 on charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor.
Smart was 14 when she was taken at knifepoint from the bedroom of her Salt Lake City home on June 6, 2002. She was found in March 2003 walking the streets of a Salt Lake City suburb with Mitchell and his now-estranged wife, Wanda Eileen Barzee.
Barzee is also facing state and federal charges but has been deemed incompetent. Forced medication was ordered by a state judge for Barzee, but her cases remain on hold.